Agency: Grazing compatible with protected bird

The yellow-billed cuckoo.

SACRAMENTO — The yellow-billed cuckoo is set for federal protection beginning Nov. 3, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say good livestock grazing practices can be compatible with the bird’s survival.

The bird, which is found in riparian woodland habitats, winters in South America and breeds in western North America, including parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and eight other states, according to the agency.

Population declines caused by the degradation and fragmentation of the bird’s riparian habitat prompted the government to list the bird as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“Once abundant in the western United States, populations have declined for several decades,” USFWS spokesman Robert Moler said in an email.

Though the agency cites overgrazing and conversion of land to agriculture as contributing to declines, it plans no significant new water-related requirements as a result of the listing, said Ren Lohoefener, director of the service’s Pacific Southwest Region.

“Riparian restoration efforts go hand-in-hand with good land management, especially management that promotes good livestock grazing practices,” Lohoefener said in a statement.

The agency’s next steps will include designating critical habitat areas for the bird and developing a recovery plan, both of which will involve public comment periods.

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